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Mountain Hardwear reimagines tent pitching with Hoopla 4


April 4, 2012

With the help of a hiking pole, the Hoopla 4 eliminates the need for lots of poles

With the help of a hiking pole, the Hoopla 4 eliminates the need for lots of poles

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For generations, campers have been relying on complicated pole systems to form the freestanding, wind-breaking structure of tents. With its new Hoopla 4, Mountain Hardwear has a different idea: rely on the tent fabric itself to create the main structure with minimal hardware involved.

Like some other tents and shelters on the market, the Hoopla 4 starts off with the principle of light weight through multifunction. Instead of an independent pole system, the only pole you'll need is a hiking pole, which many backpackers carry anyway. The Hoopla only adds one piece of internal hardware, something that Mountain Hardwear calls a Trussring.

Basically a large hoop, the Trussring uses DAC Featherlight NSL - a standard in the backpacking industry. The ring rests on top of the hiking pole and supports the tent fabric from the top, keeping it taut and creating the structure without the need for additional poles. It's a concept Mountain Hardwear calls "tensegrity." The Trussring also allows you to string a small clothesline across the top of the tent, so you can hang up clothes.

Unlike A-frames and other designs, the Trussring design opens up the roof of the tent, creating a comfortable amount of head room. The tent fabric is a single layer of 20D nylon. It sleeps up to four, providing 64 sq feet (5.9 sq m) of floor space and 50 inches (1.27 m) of height. The Hoopla is an open-bottomed shelter, but a tub floor is available for separate purchase.

Given its minimalistic design, the Hoopla weighs just 2 lbs (0.9 kg) packed, a weight that's typically reserved for ultralight one- and two-person tents. Like other types of poles, the Trussring breaks down into segments, strung together with shock cord. There are 10 segments in all, each measuring 14.1 in (36 cm). The entire tent package packs down to 20 x 4 inch (50.8 x 10.2 cm), so it could slide into a backpack relatively easily. Mountain Hardwear envisions it as anything from an emergency backup shelter to a minimalist backpacking tent.

The Hoopla 4 hit the market last month and is available for US$350. The floor is sold separately for $130.

Source: Mountain Hardwear

About the Author
C.C. Weiss Upon graduating college with a poli sci degree, Chris toiled in the political world for several years. Realizing he was better off making cynical comments from afar than actually getting involved in all that mess, he turned away from matters of government and news to cover the things that really matter: outdoor recreation, cool cars, technology, wild gadgets and all forms of other toys. He's happily following the wisdom of his father who told him that if you find something you love to do, it won't really be work. All articles by C.C. Weiss

Uhhh Na. Far too much $$$$, for far too little. Adding in the base as an optional extra - for even more is rather scummy.

Mr Stiffy

The biggest advantages seems to be low weight and ample headroom. Condensation might be a problem, I don't see any air slots. And I would have liked to have the bottom permanently attached...


If I remember rightly, tents in the past always had a pole in the centre. So what's new? That extra floor is hugely expensive. It is only a piece of fabric, after all.


Innovation, yes. But overpriced and with extra charge for what should be included...c'mon son. The pole right in the middle will not be extremely practical either. For myself - I will stick with the construction which is now standard, with the flexible structural poles. It was SUCH A RELIEF compared with central poles in the old system ! You would knock down your old tent on every ill-considered move! Now this feature back is "innovation." Lack of vapor venting also bothers me.


"It's a concept Mountain Hardwear calls "tensegrity." "

A term that was coined, if I remember by "Buckminster Fuller" who thought highly of the concept.

Snake Oil Baron

I have one of these. Love it. The ring actually rests on top of a narrow fabric shelf, the ring and shelf acting together form the Trussring. What’s new is that the ring “floats” in the canopy, like the old 18th century hoop skirts. The hiking pole doesn’t touch the ring, it just presses against the top of the tent, fabric tension does the rest. The top is taut as a drum. The string across the middle is a hoop insertion aid. On the inside of the shelf are loops through which you can run a string to form a circular clothesline. If you are under a tree with a strong limb you can hang it instead of using a center pole.


Did they reimagine it or did someone ask grandpa what they used to camp in during the 1960's? Back then it was called the Pop Tent. It was basically an umbrella with a funny shape.


Oh, and by the way, it does have a roof vent, it's just hidden in these photos. And the door opens twice as wide as the picture shows, just remove the stake on the right and there is a tie on the far seam to hold it open. And the removable bottom isn't just flat, it is a bathtub floor, it goes up the sides on the inside. I like being able to leave the floor at home when I'm going light. I pull it out of the way when I'm cooking with the door open double-wide or when I have wet gear, it lets the front part act as a vestibule. Its really pretty versatile, you can also set it up a foot higher if you want to use it as a shade tent with maximum air all around. And with the removable floor you can set it up over rocks or bushes if you can't find a 64 sq foot clear area.


Still neither as good nor as fast as the original pop up tent called The Speed Dome which required NO POLES at all. And unlike this one, was a true tent with the floor built in. I could get the speed dome out of its bag and pegged away in under a minute when pushed, to create shelter for 4 ppl inc their bags.

This thing really looks like an expensive shade sail for the beach!

The speed dome was a bit heavier - about 4lbs

Strategic Futurist

I used to hate tents with the pole in the middle of the floor. Much too easy to bump into, changes the floor layout, and well, no thanks


This looks AWESOME! What a way to go light weight. Of course then I need to carry a hiking pole, but to have this much space to move around in a shelter, all for only 2 pounds, this is definately a step forward. Thanks so much Packrafter for the heads up on the venting, I'd wondered.

Martha Michalek

Yeah I like the idea - kind of - and I understand that early production runs are more expensive but I don't think the idea justifies the price. It's not out of the ball park for expensive hiking tents but I don't see this as any more than emergency shelter. Maybe that's it's niche?

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